By Daniel Friedman
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Hockey season is nearly upon us, and with that in mind, we’ll take a look at five players from the local teams to keep an eye on as the 2015-16 campaign progresses. It’s always a challenge to pick breakout candidates, but here are mine:
Honorable Mention: Ryan Pulock, D (Islanders)
He might not start with the Isles, but he could get his chance to play midseason. I think he’ll take it and inevitably stick around from that point forward. He’s ready.
5. Eric Gelinas, D (Devils)
He has a hard shot, but has been a defensive liability in the past. Under a new head coach, he will be in the lineup more often and will get power-play time. Look for 30-40 points from him.
4. Kevin Hayes, F (Rangers)
He had 45 points in his rookie year. Expect that number to rise.
3. Anders Lee, F (Islanders)
He could get a chance to play alongside John Tavares from the get-go. He worked very well when the two were together last year. Twenty-five to 30 goals is likely.
2. Adam Larsson, D (Devils)
It’s time for the 2011 fourth-overall pick to show he’s ready to bust loose. There’s still room for him to grow and he’s headed in the right direction, but he needs to start moving the needle more.
1. Ryan Strome, F (Islanders)
He recorded 50 points last season and continues to mature. He may also play alongside Tavares to start the 2015-16 campaign. Look for a point increase, whether or not he skates with No. 91.